I Confess: My Fake Tan Nightmare

I don’t tan. It’s as simple as that. It’s taken me almost a decade of trials to conclude that I just can’t do it. It’s not because I’ve got particularly sensitive skin, or I’m a purist, by I seem to reject it. Even during my brief high school dalliance with my local tanning salon, my pale skin would take a pinkish hue for a few hours then fade back down to white. I could track my tan because the salon I used handed you a sticker to apply to your skin—classy, I know, my choices were a playboy bunny or a star. My star, placed just above my bikini line, would fade by the hour and I thankfully left my tanning bed days behind me after witnessing the rapid fade.

I went on to try gradual tan, gel tan, wash-off tan, and spray tan — my skin just wouldn't have it. Even after exfoliating (twice!) and applying it with a mitt as prescribed, the tan would still come out an uneven mess. As recently as a few weeks ago, I slathered on a new wash-off tan to try. When I walked into my flatmate’s room, she promptly declared that I looked diseased. The golden bronze gel had turned green on my skin, and I looked like a cross between a sea monster and a child who had just rolled around in the mud.

The only method I’ve found that leaves me glowing, and not splotchy or rashed, is mixing a liquid bronzer with a body cream and slathering that all over me. As for proper self-tanners, my best results came recently from a very gradual foam formula that left me looking ever so slightly darker (but still faded within a day). My skin peels and rejects the color and I’ve come to accept it. It would seem that I was destined to be pale and reflective in the harsh summer sun, but I’m OK with that. If there’s anything I’ve learned from trying countless products and treatments is that sometimes it’s just not for you. Beauty products are subjective and not all women are meant to be golden bronze. I’m certainly not and I won’t be trying anymore. I’m embracing my translucent, uneven skin and won’t apologize for it. 

image: Getty